The use of colours in retail store design

05.05.09

How do your customers feel inside your store?  Relaxed, comfortable, happy?  Or anxious and impatient?  The use of colour in store has a major impact on your customer's overall shopping experience.  So how do you maintain your corporate identity while still ensuring the most positive shopping experience for your customer?

It may come as no surprise to learn that cooler colours, such as blue, purple, white and green, encourage feelings of calm and relaxation.  In stores using these colours, shoppers generally feel more able to rationalise and think clearly, and are inclined to spend longer browsing.  They are also generally more patient when queuing! 

The opposite effect applies where ‘hotter' colours are used.  A predominance of red or orange, for example, can generate feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia.  Shoppers may feel uneasy, restless and impatient, leading to an increased rate of walk-out.

This doesn't mean you should immediately make plans to alter your corporate colour to an earthy green!  All colours have their benefits and red and orange are excellent colours for attracting attention to your store.  And the first thing that people look for when seeking out a particular store on the high street is not the name of the company, or its brand logo, it's the colour. 

The key is how a colour is applied in store

Careful application of any colour can create a positive shopping environment for your customer.

Take Turkcell, one of Turkey's biggest mobile phone operators.  We worked with them in the design and implementation of their new mobile phone store in Istanbul.

Turkcell's primary brand colour is deep blue. It was generally felt that this colour on its own had some negative associations (cold, conservative) and after long and careful consultation, we introduced a secondary colour, vibrant orange.

We made the most of this wonderful colour by using a vinyl orange translucency across the shop front to produce a welcoming glow from the outside, and created a bright and friendly environment on the inside using the warmth of orange tempered with the calming effects of blue.  Careful consideration was also given to the store layout, in order to create a sense of space and prevent any feelings of oppression and dominance often associated with hotter colours.

The result is a welcoming, modern store which maintains and promotes the Turkcell brand while ensuring a comfortable and pleasant shopping experience for Turkcell customers [see photo].

Functional use of colours in store design

But as well as using colour to create the right atmosphere in store, it can also be used for more functional purposes.  Zoning certain areas using blocks of colour (for example, using one colour to indicate the women's clothing section and another to draw attention to the men's) can make it much easier for the shopper to understand the layout of your store and identify where to locate merchandise, and the beauty of zoning by colour is that it can also be used seasonally.  Yellow is perfect in the summer for highlighting sun care products, while green and red are the immediate choice for signposting Christmas displays.

A word of caution, however.  Treat colour zoning with care, particularly in relation to category segmentation.  Too many different colours can be confusing and may give the store the appearance of a sweet shop!

When used well, colour will undoubtedly serve you well.  And of course, the easier and more pleasant the shopping experience, the more inclined your customer will be to return. 

Click here to sign up for our newsletter